I just finished with the enviable task of upgrading to a new computer. Over my lifetime, I have lost count on the number of times I have upgraded my computer and had to move files and reinstall software. This was the easiest upgrade I ever had and I believe it was in large part to my preparation. I would like to share my lessons learned.
When upgrading a computer, you need to be concerned about not only your files but also your programs and settings. Here are the steps I took:
1. Track which programs you are using. The programs I use are important to me, they help me achieve my goals. However, there are some that I use infrequently and I might not be able to produce a list of them from memory. Instead I printed a list of loaded programs so I can track them down later. To do that, I used a small batch file to dump file and directory lists to a text file.
2. Ensure you have all necessary software installation keys. Before starting the process of shutting down one computer and starting a new computer, I ensured that I had software keys for commercial software applications. I store my keys in an encrypted file on Evernote. Evernote is one of the first programs I load when I start installing software.
3. Move files to an external drive. While there are programs that will allow you to move files and settings from one computer to another, I have personally had mixed experiences, and personally shy away from them. I may do it the hard way, but still successfully. If you were not practicing good file management, this is the time to cull all your files into logical folders. I then move all my folders and files onto my Dropbox and off of my computer. I pay for the subscription, but it has been worth it to me. When I set up my new computer, Dropbox is the second program I install.
4. Track which mapped drives you have. Right now, I have 15 mapped drives. To ensure I was not forgetting anything, I printed out a list of my mapped drives. You can do this by going to the command prompt and running “net use > mapped_drives.txt” It creates a useful list of your mapped drives. One less thing to forget.
5. Export address books and bookmarks. As a minimum, you should save a back up of your address books and bookmarks from your e-mail client and Web browsers. I am not so concerned about my bookmarks because I use Diigo for all my links; however, I do have some quick access links I use. It is nice to have access to them immediately. I also have email messages saved in local pst files that I burned to CD.
6. Back up your fonts. This last suggestion was recommended by my boss who is a graphic designer. She suggested that you back up your fonts as well as print out a list of them.
After taking time to carry out this preparation, getting back in service was quite painless. Once I had my new computer up and running, I immediately installed and configured Google Chrome, Dropbox, Evernote, and Skype. I then set up my Outlook account. After the initial set up, I began loading my software applications. Here is what is important to me:
- Google Desktop
- Adobe Reader
- Adobe Air
- Lame for Audacity
- Mihov Image Resizer
- PDF Creator
- Second Life
- Dragon Naturally Speaking
- Google Earth
- Camtasia Studio 8 [Download]
- Gimp 2
- PDF Split and Merge
- Adobe Captivate